Covid-19: water is already in the house!

I lived in Islamabad’s I-8 sector for years

In pursuit of squeezing more residential area, the Capital Development Authority levelled many natural waterways to set up its sectors

Until this sector was fully developed excess water was able to absorb in unbuilt areas, but not anymore

My house was on a street which was regularly flooded

I also realised that once the house’s water defences are broken nothing can be done as water will find its way in from multiple entry points

I saw this in despair when for the first time my house was flooded from multiple sides

I knew then I couldn’t do much

The coronavirus pandemic is no different

We should try our best to strengthen our defences against its spread before it enters a geographic area

Even if it enters an area, the early phase is critical as we can limit its spread by effective public health measures including immediate testing, contact tracing and isolation

So what steps do we need to take before it enters and establishes in a geographic area? We need a good health intelligence system to identify any clusters early and limit its spread

Good data also guides in effective decision-making like precise public health interventions instead of general and harmful measures as total lockdowns

The numbers, if trusted by the community, also help make people listen to and follow government guidelines

However numbers and their inherent value are lost on those supposed to collect them

Numbers here are considered a commodity whose value could be fixed by the wishes of decision-makers

Numbers in Pakistan especially in our health system are either poorly collected or actively manipulated

But just as commodity price can’t be fixed by just administrative processes unless demand and supply is factored in, similarly faulty numbers can’t protect a nation from death and misery of an outbreak

Where good health intelligence may not save you from an impending pandemic it could help you control it better

We had a good interval when the number of Covid cases declined significantly

That time was wasted in self-congratulatory illusions of success

A major reason for our fewer numbers was fewer vulnerable people in our population

Though as a public health person it is a matter of shame that the average life of a Pakistani is so low, it helped the narrative that Pakistanis defeated the virus

There is no doubt that governments (federal and provincial) took some effective steps to limit its spread

But whenever someone raised the issue of not letting the guards down they were directed to hospital indicators which are three to four weeks delayed

But water will enter the house if it’s around you and coronavirus is no different

For the past few weeks we have again started hearing about people getting infected with Covid-19

The numbers are small but steadily increasing

If we see the rest of world, Europe is going through a tsunami

Daily numbers are multiple times higher than the first wave

In the United States, the first wave has transformed into sustained waves, each behaving differently in different states but nearly all are rising

Islamabad is one city which I know does not try to hide its numbers and shares them publicly (Sindh as a province too)

We are seeing numbers in Islamabad steadily increase

Pakistan and other countries need to realise they can’t win a war without good intelligence

Daily testing numbers are not a replacement of good health intelligence

But we are trying to win this epic battle of with faulty intelligence and leaders who have never seen the battleground

Covid-19 is a public health problem and only public health strategies will help

There is still some time to correct but time is running out!

Date:18-Oct-2020 Reference:View Original Link